On Monday night figures from across the fashion industry flocked to London for the 24th edition of the British Fashion Awards. But does fashion really warrant an awards ceremony all of its own? Maisie Skidmore thinks so. As ever, you can add your comments to the thread below.
Of all the new vocabulary I’ve picked up over the last year or so (“kerning”, “IRL” and “libellous” are all on that list, but perhaps that’s for another day) “peacocking” is my favourite. It means, more or less, “dressing for attention”, and I’ve heard it used more than once, usually derogatorily, to describe some of the many people associated with the fashion industry.
Therein lies the problem with criticising the fashion industry, though – the “many people” involved in it. Because the fact is, fashion provides jobs to 800,000 people in Britain, and it’s a number that’s growing rapidly. From pattern cutters and delivery men to retail managers and designers, London’s swift ascension to the top of the stakes, where it sits comfortably alongside New York, Paris and Milan, shows no sign of slowing anytime soon. Not to mention the yearly contribution of a cool £21million to the British economy. £21million! Even if the financial crisis hadn’t left us flailing open-mouthed like fish out of water, you can’t really sniff at a figure like that.
Maybe this goes some way to explaining why it frustrates me so much that, in spite of fashion’s unquestionable contribution, there are still those critics who question whether it even merits its own night dedicated to recognising its contributors.
Sure, there are those who regularly grace magazine covers and high street store windows alike awarded, with Kate Moss and Edie Campbell both given a nod (large and little respectively), and Burberry awarded both Menswear Designer of the Year and Designer Brand of the Year.
But there also are those who might otherwise have gone unnoticed by ordinary folk. Monday night’s ceremony saw journalist, fashion editor and all-round incredible woman Suzy Menkes recognised for her lifelong contribution to the industry, while the founders of the now iconic i-D magazine, Terry and Tricia Jones, were awarded the thoroughly-deserved Outstanding Achievement in Fashion award.
In fact, that minor matter of £21million isn’t the half of it, because in periods of austerity and extravagance alike, fashion will continue to inspire millions. What’s more, us British happen to be very very good at it. If the industry chooses to take a moment to reflect on this undeniable success, I can’t imagine a power great enough to question it.